History of the FBI

A Brief History of the FBI

1908: At the request of President Theodore Roosevelt, an investigative branch of the Department of Justice was created.  It was headed by Chief Examiner Stanley Finch.

1917:  J. Edgar Hoover began working with the Department of Justice legal staff.

1920:  Prohibition began.  Gangsterism began its rise in the United States.

1924: J. Edgar Hoover was named Acting Director of the Bureau of Investigation.  By 1924, there were 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents.

1929:  Al Capone was arrested by Bureau Agents.

1932:  The FBI Laboratory was established

1933:  The Bureau of Investigation became the Division of Investigation.  The Kansas City Massacre occurred.

1934:  John Dillinger was killed by Federal Agents in Chicago.

1935:  The Division of Investigation became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

1940:  The Disaster Squad was created when the FBI was called upon to identify its employees involved in an airplane crash in Virginia.

1950:  The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” Program began.

1963:  President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  President Johnson ordered the FBI to investigate.

1966:  President Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act.

1967:  National Crime Information Center (NCIC) became operational.

1972:  The new FBI Academy was opened on the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia.

1974: The Behavioral Science Unit formed to investigate serial rape and homicide cases.

1978:  The use of laser technology to detect latent fingerprints was initiated.

1983:  The Hostage Rescue Team became operational.

1984:  National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) was established at the FBI Academy.  A Computer Analysis and Response Team (CART) was established to help find offices retrieve computer evidence.  The Crisis Management Unit (CMU) was also formed.

1985: The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) was created by the Department of Justice.

1988:  By 1988, the FBI employed 9,663 Special Agents and 13,651 support personnel.

1992:  FBI Lab established its own Evidence Response Team (ERT).

1994:  The Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) was created to more effectively deal with hostage-taking and barricade situations.

1995:  Announcement of an undercover investigation, “Innocent Images,” which targeted child pornography over the internet.

1997:  Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

1999:  Osama Bin Laden was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

2001:  Director Mueller announced a reorganization of FBI Headquarters to meet evolving challenges.  The Behavioral Analysis Units (BAU) were created under the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC).

2004: The Highway Serial Killings Initiative is launched.


Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2010).  FBI history.  Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2008). The FBI: A centennial history, 1908-2008. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/fbihistorybook.htm

Holden, H. M. (2008). FBI 100 years: An unofficial history. Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company.

Presented by: Ashley DuVal

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